reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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the unreachable star. [merely-a-thought monday]

my uncle allen had a beautiful voice. my mom’s brother, he would stand in our living room, with me at the piano or the organ, and belt out songs with great love. he’d bring stacks of sheet music over and we’d page through them, choosing greatest hits from broadway musicals or the radio. sometimes my big brother would play along and the three of us would entertain my sweet momma and dad for hours. there is never a time i hear “the impossible dream” that i do not think of allen.

“and I know if I’ll only be true
to this glorious quest
that my heart will lie peaceful and calm
when i’m laid to my rest”

(the impossible dream)

i cannot think of anyone i have ever known who was as consistently happy – no matter the difficulty or challenge facing him, he was happy and smiling. his complete support of my earliest recording path is something for which i will always be grateful. my uncle always believed. in his wonderful wife, his adored children, his family, in me. allen was a gift to the universe. when i think about the movie “the fault in our stars”, i realize that he was an example of living this way – recognizing that it matters not how many people you touch or impact or inspire, no matter the tiny or giant legacy you leave in your wake – what matters is that there was one person…one person for whom you have made a difference simply by being on this good earth. anything beyond that is icing on the cake. allen was indeed icing.

the chipmunks are back and i have to say i am delighted. they are adorable and cunning and just really smart little guys. before the winter, they devised all kinds of methods to get to the birdfeeder, despite the metal plate that is supposed to keep them away. they managed to chock-fill their cheeks with seed and carry it off to their wintercondos. now they have returned and they are hungry. they’ve been practicing getting up the feeder, sometimes falling into the grasses below. they have been intentional. they don’t let failure get in their way. they literally jump from the ground up to the plate over and over until suddenly they are somehow balanced there and then they can jump up to the grazing edge of the feeder. they do what’s necessary, then what’s possible and then suddenly they are flying through the air, rewarded by a feeder full of birdseed.

i don’t suppose that’s unusual. everything takes practice. impossible is maybe a temporary matter. i also suppose that there is a certain surprise element to things. we start out with one plan, one path, one intention. we don’t bank on wavering off, we don’t bank on obstacles, we don’t bank on changing direction. impossible.

and yet, there’s possible waving at us from somewhere beyond the impossible dream. and we find ourselves in places unexpected, doing unexpected things, forging those impossible mountains.

there we are, flying through the air, the world in our hands, rewarded by a feeder full of birdseed.

“to reach the unreachable star.”

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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the imperative. [merely-a-thought monday]

i loved it all. the halls of john glenn high school, the walls of the classrooms i sat in, most of the extraordinary teachers i had the pleasure of studying with, most of the classes i took. i loved math, i loved science, i loved english and creative writing. i even loved my jewelry class, though i was not particularly skilled at it. i took no music classes in high school. none.

the guidance counselor didn’t know what to do. what direction do i go? what path do i take? what major do i pursue? the emphasis was on the decision. make one, i was told. it is quite possible this is one of the reasons why, years later, i completed a guidance and counseling masters – to scrap the emphasis on the decision and shift it to the process. at a time in the late 70s when college was ever-important and i was top-of-my-class i was underserved. it does not matter where you are in your class if your spectrum of curiousness is dowsed by someone pressing you into a mold, narrowed into a this-or-that.

in my first years of community college i still loved it all. philosophy classes were a stand-out. economics were not-so-much. business law was a low point. environmental science classes fascinated me. because i played the piano, taught piano lessons, wrote songs, and directed a youth choir, i signed up for a couple music theory classes and met paul simon, the godson of my music theory professor sy shaffer. listening to paul talk about songwriting was a huge highlight. i mean, it was paul simon. but i really still didn’t know what direction to take.

a life-changing event, as life-changing events do, changed that.

i moved when i should have stayed. i left when i should have dug in. i dropped the rest of the curiosity to focus on the familiar, the known. albert einstein would have taken me by my ear. “stay curious,” he would have admonished. “what you seek is seeking you,” rumi would have whispered to me. “wait.”

it’s funny to me now – as i look back – that i did not focus on the inordinate number of hours i spent writing in a tree. it’s funny to me now – as i look back – that i wrote songs and music and arrangements – fifteen albums worth – and never really thought of all the heavy composing or theory classes i took in my second half at university. never once have i gone back and compo-analyzed the structure-texture-tonal-system-consonance-dissonance of a piece of music i have written. it’s funny to me now – as i play with design and photoshop and cartooning and blogging – that it didn’t occur to me, as an editor at john glenn’s art and literary magazine “gemini”, how much i loved what i was doing in those after-school hours-and-hours sessions with one of the world’s best and most expansive english teachers, andrea vrusho. it’s funny. we see and we don’t see. twists and turns, paths taken, paths not taken. our stories all different. stages and flatbeds, classrooms, church chancels, the state side of the courtroom, piano benches, recording studios, choir rooms, department-store-holiday-wrapping in lean times. all part of the curio cabinet, never full, never finished. we take paths and, if we are scrappy and confident and lucky enough to be supported and even mentored, we make the best of them. anyway. there is a richness to each story and each path.

no special talents. passionately curious.

we all have something. something that sets us apart from each and every other person. something that the world we are in cannot do without. for every spoke in the wheel counts and every gift, every talent, every nurturing soul, every fixer-upper, every engineer-brain, every teacher, every scientist, every laborer, every inventor, every chef creating magic in a soup kitchen or michelin-star-bistro, every artist, every athlete, every skilled-trade expert are necessary in this place, at this time.

it is exactly that – that is brilliant. it is exactly that which is genius. it is the appreciation of that – so much to learn – which is the gift of being human. it is the imperative of humanity.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

and a little mood music for you – the orchestra of my professor sy shaffer


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the gig economy tapestry. [ saturday morning smack-dab.]

i was going to write about the gig economy. about how living a life – mostly – in that world has given me a perspective about work that is maybe a little less rigid than the perspective of one who has worked outside the gig economy. always piecing it together, always scrappy, always thinking of the next new thing to create – these are second nature. not having as much, worrying, repurposing, having thinner margins – these are also second nature. in the middle of the middle of what-next thinking, outside the box of indeed and monster and ziprecruiter and simplyhired and random sites that seriously suggest i apply for positions as a neuroscience researcher. “now what?” people will ask – mostly who don’t really know me or who are drawing comparisons with their own lives. i was going to write about all that.

but then i thought about beauty. i thought about how artists dive below the surface, try to find the depth of meaning, try to hear and see what which others might pass by, not noticing. i thought about stages and boom mics and connection and standing in front of a diebenkorn – or a robinson – deep inside, marveling. i thought about arvo pärt and his absolute tug on my heart. i thought about john denver and simplicity. i thought about recording studios and soaring string sections, cello lines that make clouds rearrange to allow in light. the weaving of intricate relationship between people and nature, between people and art in any form.

there have been moments – and i can actually remember them – when i have been driving and listening to a song and i weep or hiking and seeing something so stunning i stop and cannot move. these moments when i know, without a doubt, that it was right to turn down the business-school-accounting-program acceptance. these moments when i know, without a doubt, that i will not have the same security as the person-i-would-have-been following that route. moments when i feel a sense of pride to be a tiny part of the tapestry of what people turn to in time of rejuvenation, of rest, of crisis, of pure bliss. these moments when i know, without a doubt, that somewhere along the way what i have done with my time has touched someone, has opened them, has taken them diving with me. below the surface of this great big world – to beauty.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2022 kerrianddavid.com


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a weirdfest. [saturday morning smack-dab.]

“but what’s your REAL job?”

it’s been forty years now…over forty, actually. four decades of other people asking THAT question: “what’s your REAL job?”. for a society that values entertainment in all arenas of medium, it would seem a ridiculous query – for this work as an artist – this work providing a piece of heart connection, of balance, this work expressing ideas with the hope of creating beauty, this work exploring perceptions and nudging perspectives, this work generating emotions – this IS my real job. as an artist. a funambulist.

and as a lifelong artist, some things about my life are just different than the norm. it is hard for people to know what to say – or for that matter, what to think – when you mention you are a musician or that you write or paint or dance or sculpt or act. it’s kind of a conversation-stopper. or a chance for the people at the table to push, “but what’s your REAL job?”.

the success of our lives is not measured in rising stocks or 401k’s or retirement portfolios or even bulging savings accounts, for that matter. real jobs are defined by levels of security and solvency that artists, sadly, rarely experience. it’s just hard for others to wrap their heads around such oddity, such tenuousness, such a complex relationship with the imperative to create.

so we point out: the bow, literal or figurative, of any artist is humble gratitude. the joy of any artist is the rippling concentric circle of their work. success is connection, resonance. even with one tiny person-star in the galaxy.

the definition of our lives is complicated to explain, though i expect so is yours. if one artist is awkward, two artists is a weird-fest. sooo not-normal. we will laugh WITH you as you struggle to understand us. weird or not, it is who we are.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this SATURDAY MORNING

SMACK-DAB. ©️ 2021 kerrianddavid.com


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the underwear moments. [d.r. thursday]

as you walk in the front door of the gallery, it is straight ahead of you. “unfettered” seizes your attention and the light streaming in the windows spilling onto a warm wood floor and white woodwork seems to embrace it in a cloud. i know how this feels. showcasing a piece is allowing it to come to full bloom, to let it breathe in the world, to share it. but showcasing a piece is not for the meek at heart.

in the way you would likely feel standing in your underwear in a town square, introducing the world to some new piece of your heart is raw. on old wooden stages with a piano and a mic, centered on a wall with a tiny price tag placed nearby, during poetry-reading night in the corner of the general store, sharing with the novel-writing club every first thursday, skating the first performance on ice, tapping “publish” on a blog each day … pieces of your heart float shakily about as you try to hold onto sisu and stay grounded. it matters not how many times you have done this. your heart has been unbridled and you are allowing others in. each and every time.

“unfettered” is gorgeous. it’s – coincidentally – exactly how i feel on wooden stages. it is how i feel on the top of mountain trails. it is how i feel dancing in the front yard. it is how i feel those moments i have been cantering on the back of an exquisite horse. it is how love feels. it is how the sun on your face feels.

“unfettered” is the epitome of its own hanging-on-the-gallery-wall boldness. the uninhibited freedom of expression – artistry come to fruition in the moment of utter sharing. terrifying and liberating. raw and real. the underwear moments.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

click on this image to visit UNFETTERED & other bold-heart paintings


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cactus, candles and a red wagon. [d.r. thursday]

i started a business when i was young. nothing cost more than about a dollar but i was a zealous salesperson. i pulled a red wagon around my neighborhood, going door to door – in the days when that was actually safe – and sold cactus. my sweet momma had prolific succulents and would pot tiny offshoots and volunteers into cups or chipped mugs or little clay pots, turning them over to me to sell. it’s amazing how many people would buy a 25 cent baby cactus from an eight year old at the door. i was thrilled counting my earnings at the end of the day and would impatiently wait for the next proliferation of cactus pups.

after a while and some market research, i decided to add candles to my stock. i purchased wax and three-dimensional plastic molds, tape and had a perfect little finnish knife to trim the wax after taking it out of the mold. i never lit any of those candles. they seemed more like decorations and less like candles-to-burn. funny to think about not-thinking-about-lighting-them and i wonder how many of the candles i happily sold on the streets of my growing-up were ever burned. though i’d love to revisit that project now, for fun and maybe to actually try the candle as a candle, my supplies are stuck somewhere – since 1979 – in the somewhat-finished attic room closet of a methodist church on long island, where i had helped with a youth group and taught them how to make candles.

i wonder now about what someone will think when they stumble upon all of that – my dad’s old hard plastic luggage case with molds and wax. i wonder if they will laugh thinking about the simplicity of it. after all, for my tiny business all i really did was melt the wax in a double boiler, choose a color dye, place the wick, tape and set up the molds, pour the wax into the molds and wait. once they were set, i trimmed along the seam line to create a seamless looking alligator or snail or mushroom or a variety of other marketable shapes of candles i can’t recall. i simply changed the form of wax.

i suppose it’s all like that. changing the form. the notes float and the composer grabs them out of the atmosphere, placing them together into a piece of music, changing the form of their ethereal bobbing-around-out-there. color bursts around us, nature offering us every iota of choice, and the painter gently retrieves them and places them together on the canvas, translating the iron oxide red of delicate arches into a vibrant sunrise or the flower of a still-life. the butterfly on the wing dances and the ballerina’s steps mimic the form, an expression of freedom and joy. words and expressions whirl around and turns of phrases hide inside dictionaries and the writer plucks and chooses, creating poetry and story from the raw.

my sweet momma and poppo discovered ikea in their 80s. they were intense fans. from time to time i would get big ups packages from them – ikea runs – with new wooden spoons or lanterns or cork trivets or tealights or whatever was their latest discovery there. and so i became a tealight fan. we burn them often. to light the table on our deck, to light our pop-up, inside all around the house, to honor someone with a flickering flame all day, safely burning on the stove. i guess that these are a lot easier to make than alligators or snails. and i know that they are obviously a lot easier to light and actually burn.

i still have a round yellow happy face candle i received years ago. i haven’t burned it. something about not messing with its form, i guess. why do we have candles we aren’t going to burn?

today, i think i might take out that round happy face candle. maybe i will put it on the stove, in a safe-to-burn-all-day spot. maybe it will infuse inspiring form-changing into the air around me. there’s much to purge from more recent times and much to welcome in next days. it’s worth a try.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this D.R. THURSDAY

visit DAVID’s gallery

adding an image from later that day:


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snakeinthegrass. [two artists tuesday]

sansevieria (snake plants) make me think of my sweet momma. after buying one for our son, i announced that we needed to get one as well. this past spring we added snakeinthegrass to our growing army of plants and it has not let us down, growing no matter what, the best part of sansevieria – its fortitude.

“snakeinthegrass” does not seem to be a loving name, for we all have encountered people we would describe as such. you know, the ones talking out of both sides of their mouths. the mean ones with agenda. the ones who, despite any variety-pack of livelihoods or assumed compassionate demeanor, go for the jugular or throw you under the bus. mm-hmm. not necessarily a nice name. perhaps we named snakeinthegrass “snakeinthegrass” to ward off the snakesinthegrass we had encountered. we hisssss when we call it by name. “sssssssnakeinthegrass,” we say. it makes us laugh. and our snake plant giggles with us and filters the air and grows taller day by day.

maybe that is how we should deal with all negativity. get a plant, name it something that is irking you, laugh every time you call it by name, let it cleanse the air and shed the bad juju. “li’l bitch” is the name of another succulent we have in the sunroom. it stabs you, without warning, if you get too close to its long branches, hidden spiny needles at the end. quite beautiful in shape and rich green, it also reminded us of people we have encountered, hidden motives just waiting to stab you. yuck! and phew! now we laugh as we talk to our plant.

kc and boston remind us of our beloved children, spikey gets his name for obvious reasons, leticia and stumpy as well. we’re not sure about ralph and, perhaps not coincidentally, ralph-without-a-real-reason-for-his-name is not doing well. perhaps he needed a different name, a name with the job of sage. several options come to mind.

time marches on and hearts heal. eventually tales of goodness mesh together with stories filled with pain. and the air gets clearer and cleaner. and the plants grow.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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mini-marshmallows and gogo boots. [merely-a-thought monday]

if you are wondering where mini marshmallows come from, wonder no more. clearly they grow on white baneberry bushes in dr. seuss-land. passing it on the trail i could not get over how oh-the-places-you’ll-go this bush was. a standout in a green forest floor, confidently colorful and nicknamed “doll’s eyes” for obvious vintage-china-doll reasons, it got my attention and it piqued my curiosity.

we watched a silly movie a couple nights ago. my sweet momma loved sandra bullock so every time i watch a sandra bullock movie i feel like my mom is right there with us, giggling or cheering her on. the movie was “all above steve” co-starring bradley cooper. its silliness is comedic fun, particularly on an evening we were not looking to be intellectually challenged. but there was an unexpectedly sweet message in this movie. mary (sandra bullock), a brilliant young woman who is a crossword puzzle constructor and has a brain full of random knowledge and would kick anyone’s patootie playing trivial pursuit, is trying to be “normal” to fit into the world. in the end she discovers the power of standing in her own shoes, which were, in her case, red gogo boots.

artists are often looked at as misfits, a little outside the box, not quite fitting in. perhaps more colorful, perhaps louder, perhaps more questioning, the job of an artist is to elicit movement in thought, in action, in emotion, in sensitivity. we are hot-pink-stemmed mini-marshmallow plants in a world of green underbrush, ever being told that exposure will grant us the ability to live in this world, to pay our bills, to get ahead. artists everywhere under the sun shudder upon hearing those words, “think about the exposure.” we don our courageous metaphoric gogo boots, go to town trying to be ‘normal’ and realize that we were really ok all along, in our own skin.

often i have heard others comment on the re-purposed stuff in our house. empty window frames, screen doors, travel-worn suitcases, branches wrapped in lights, old coffeepots doubling as canisters. we’ve been asked, “how did you think of that?” i don’t know how to answer that other than “how couldn’t i?”

i’m guess i’m not ‘normal’. in the world of christian louboutin and jimmy choo footwear desires, i’m wearing old navy flipflops and hundreds-of-miles hiking boots. in a world of oscar de la renta and ralph lauren aficionados, i’m wearing my dad’s old flannel shirt and jeans. in a world of cle de peau beaute and guerlain and creme de la mer, my face is lucky to see an oil of olay original and coppertone 30spf combo.

and i, just like artists everywhere, love to be reminded, time to time, that we were all born to stand out. each and every one of us. artist or not. no matter the road we walk. no matter the red gogo boots or hot-pink stems. stand out. in our own skin.

mini-marshmallow, anyone?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY


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initiative. [flawed wednesday]

(sign on the door of the milwaukee institute of art & design)

a year and a half.

jen told me yesterday that the 1918 pandemic, though most often referred to as a two-year pandemic, actually lasted two and a half years.

two and a half years.

i shudder to think of the toll this pandemic will have taken if it lasts yet another year or more. we have learned so much; we have learned so little. the pandemic has been like a kaleidoscope and like a microscope, both. it has scattered us into constantly changing patterns and it has brought everything into minute focus. yet i wonder where this will take us.

artists aren’t typically conservative in-the-boxers. we take risks, live gig lifestyles, put ourselves out there, are vulnerable and push back against things we consider inequities, ironic double-talk, disinterest in humanitarianism, opacity where transparency is touted. we aren’t quiet, for it is our job to speak – in whatever medium our talent. we are, as artists, there to raise questions, to promote pondering, communicate ideas, tell stories, express emotion, encourage engagement, inspire connection and collaboration, reiterate interdependence of all people.

though this burden does not remain singly on the shoulders of artists, even banksy has participated in making statements about safety and guidelines in this pandemic. i’m not sure how much more blatant it needs to be. encouraging covid-19 responsibility, his work in the london tube in july 2020 was titled, “if you don’t mask, you don’t get.” he spray-paints the words, “i get lockdown, but i get up again” at the end of the video featuring his rats on the tube.

though attendees were 100% vaccinated, the invitation read, “masks required at all times unless actively eating or drinking.” they provided masks, sweet ones with the initials of the wedding couple and a heart. the venues had high high ceilings, exposed rafters and ductwork. the wedding was outside, cocktail hour was outside, dancing was outside.

when the rain came, we all kept dancing. outside, twinkling lights all around, we breathed in fresh air. even with masks on.

“a lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” (banksy)

initiative (noun): the ability to assess and initiate things independently; the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do.

the milwaukee institute of art and design has posted signs on all their doors. they have taken a stance.

wearing a mask in public spaces – and vaccination – have been scientifically proven to lower the rate of transmission, sickness and death of a deadly global pandemic. already a year and a half.

exactly what additional kind of initiative do you need?

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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a smidge away. [two artists tuesday]

it felt like we were away. we had never explored this area of milwaukee and, with time on our hands on a stunningly beautiful day, we walked. we decided it didn’t matter if we knew our way around or not, our phones and gps would get us back. so we left the airbnb in walker point and started north. knowing the lake was east of us, it was a natural turn to the right, the water drawing us.

the architecture of cream city brick and old warehouses is charming and i kept thinking how we needed to return to take photographs when we had more time to linger. we turned east at a warehouse that had been converted to condo living, industrial balconies lining the river with colorful bistro tables and teak adirondack chairs and strands and strands of strung lights. the evenings must be beautiful walking along the river toward lake michigan.

we could see the hoan bridge arching into the sky and headed toward it. we passed a guy on the sidewalk with a shirt that said “light the hoan” and i looked it up. “light is swiftly becoming one of the most powerful tools to breathe new life into cities,” the website promotes. i remember a beautiful suspension bridge lit across the river in east boston when our son lived there. the light changed everything and was stunning. you can purchase a bulb on the hoan, be a beacon in the night and know that people are sitting on balconies gazing and dreaming, much like staring into a bonfire. the bridge and its design drew my iphone camera toward it.

we wound our way through outdoor dining seating and along the docks, multiple times mentioning to each other that we would “come back” and explore more. it amazed me that, such a short distance away from home, we felt like we were away and adventure was simply waiting. an early evening wedding stopped us short of much exploration, but there’s always the next time.

we walked out to the lighthouse where the milwaukee river met lake michigan and stood for a few minutes before turning around. the art museum beckoned from up the lakefront; beyond that we know there are beaches and a favorite coffee house in an historic water treatment plant.

we walked back some of the way we came, sticking to the river as much as possible. flowers and shadows and railings and vintage glass finials, textures and surprises, restoration and beautiful intention our companions.

passing the docked boats, though no salt in this air, i got a whiff of the past. i could imagine i was at northport harbor, watching the comings and goings of boaters and fishermen. it made me have a taste for baked clams and buffalo calamari from skippers pub, a hop, skip and a jump away in my mind as the scent of waterfront and moored boats surrounded me.

though the pandemic and travel warnings might preclude a trip to long island, we, aloud, promised each other we would return to this walkway, to stroll along the river chatting and snapping pictures, to immerse in a sculpture walk, to find the perfect bistro table on the dock sidewalks, to dine al fresco in the swirl of memories and new adventures.

getting away just a smidge away.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY